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Car Talk

By Jack Biddle.

Hybrid Toyota Hilux on its way down under

It was never a question of if; it was only ever a matter of when, and who would be first, to bring a high volume selling, light commercial, and more environmentally friendly ute to the New Zealand market.

And it is no real surprise either to learn that Toyota New Zealand is first out of the blocks with a recent announcement that it will be bringing a hybrid electric Hilux to the market in early 2024.

New Zealand’s most favoured vehicle purchase for many years now, utes, have come under fire recently with the introduction of the Governments Clean Car Discount scheme meaning every new purchase comes with an added fee attached due to their high tailpipe emissions.

While future sales may slow a little because of the added fee, there are no alternative vehicles currently on offer to carry out the hard work and versatility that utes are renowned for, so it’s safe to say they aren’t going anywhere just yet. They just need to tidy up their act as far as emissions are concerned. As specification levels and looks have risen to entice a far wider range of potential buyers from different walks of life, utes, like the Hilux and Ford Ranger, are no longer just the ticket for organisations and business that need a workhorse to carry out their daily chores.

The introduction of a hybrid electric Hilux in early 2024 will also be a key element in the decarbonisation plans of Toyota New Zealand. It has set itself an ambitious target to reduce the tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of its portfolio of cars, utes and vans by a minimum of 46% by 2030.

The introduction of a diesel hybrid ute to their stable, will be a significant move to help reach this target while at the same time continuing to meet the needs of Hilux owners across the country.

Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive, Neeraj Lala, says while he can’t reveal too many details of the hybrid Hilux just yet, it will have a significant impact in the New Zealand ute scene, the largest segment of the local car and light commercial market. “Toyota is transitioning from a traditional automaker to a mobility company focused on sustainable technologies and transport. The hybrid Hilux will be an important addition to our range and will enable many tradies, farmers, and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints,” he says.

The Chief Executive continues; “We have maintained for a long time that hybrid technology is the best solution to decarbonisation until fully battery electric technology is both available and affordable. Our ambition is to offer a fully electric Hilux. However, until that is available, hybrid remains the best technology and will only drive our overall emissions down further. We need to make sure no one is left behind in the transition to an electrified future. For this reason, we are truly excited at the prospect of presenting a hybrid Hilux to our customers as we continue to decarbonise the great kiwi lifestyle.”

Mr Lala also adds that Toyota is also committed to repurposing or recycling end of life parts from its vehicles, including batteries. The new Hybrid Hilux technology will be eagerly awaited and no doubt come under some very tough scrutiny when it does finally arrive on our shores. For the townies it sounds ideal, but the real test will be whether it can deliver on its promise to reduce fuel consumption and tail pipe emissions significantly when required to carry out the heavy lifting.

Toyota’s hybrid technology will be combined with the 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission and comprises an additional 48V battery, electric motor-generator, and other components. According to Toyota New Zealand, the addition of the hybrid technology will not have any impact on the capability of the Hilux with the 4x4 models maintaining the abilities of the current model including 3,500kg braked towing capacity.

Caption: Hybrid Toyota Hilux .

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